Despite outclassing its lowly ranked opponent, controlling large portions of the game and creating many chances, Japan could not find the net.
In a match split into three 30-minute periods, Japan was strong in midfield, often putting players into good positions to create chances, but lacked a finishing touch.
Zimbabwe had only one shot on goal in the entire game.
Japan coach Takeshi Okada tried various combinations up front, partnering first choice striker Takayuki Morimoto with Shinji Okazaki, both of whom forced fingertip saves from the Zimbabwe goalkeeper.
Playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura, coming back from an ankle injury, played the first third without visible discomfort but was below his best.
Captain Makoto Hasebe, who hurt his back during training three days ago, also came through the first third without a reoccurrence of the injury.
Forward Keiji Tamada was among the standouts, putting a number of shots on target.
The Blue Samurais’ best effort came in the last third of the game, when Kengo Nakamura’s free kick from 20 yards out cleared Zimbabwe’s wall and dipped dangerously to the top left corner, forcing a good save from the keeper. AP